One Arab's Apology
I thought the whole thing was good enough to post. This op-ed from the New York Post:
September 12, 2006 -- WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.
The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.
Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.
Yes, our extremists and our culture.
Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad.
There's also enough there for someone of a different mindset to find a path to enlightenment and peace. Still, Rushdie had it right back in 2001: This does have to do with Islam. A Christian who bombs an abortion clinic in the name of God is still a Christian, at least in his interpretation, and saying otherwise doesn't negate the fact that he has spent a goodly amount of time figuring out his version of the one true and right thing to do.
The men who killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11 in all likelihood died saying prayers to Allah, and that by itself is one of the most horrific things to me about that day.
And, while my grandparents never waged a jihad, their attitudes toward Jews weren't that much different than Mohammed Atta's. No, they didn't support the Holocaust, but they did believe that Jews were trouble in many different ways, and those sorts of beliefs were passed on to me before I'd ever actually met a Jew.
I'm sorry for that, for ever believing that anything that my grandparents or other relatives had to say about Jews or Israel, for that matter, had any real resemblance to truth. It took me years to realize that I'd been conned into believing the generalizations and stereotypes that millions around the Arab world buy into: that Jews, America and Israel are our main problem.
One look at the average Arab regime should alert us to the fact that the problem, dear Achmed, lies not overseas or next door in Tel Aviv, but in the brutal, corrupt despots that we have bred from country to country in the Mideast, across the span of history. That history and its corresponding economic devastation is the main reason I reside on New York City's West Bank - New Jersey - not the one near Jerusalem. On my worst day, I'm happy about that fact. I'd rather be here than there, and experience the freedom and boundless opportunities that were mostly unknown to so many generations of my family in the Mideast.
For as long as I live, the image of those towers falling, as I watched in horror and disbelief from the corner of 40th and Fifth, will be for me my Pearl Harbor, for in that instant I recognized that not only was our city under attack - so was our freedom.
It still is. And will continue to be for years to come. And the threat is not from within, but from Islamic fascists who desperately want to destroy the freedom and opportunities that millions the world over still seek.
Five years after that awful day, it's time for all Arab-Americans, and Arabs around the world, to protest against Islamic fascism, to raise our voices - and, where necessary, our arms - against these tyrants until their plague of terror has been driven from the face of the earth forever.
Emilio Karim Dabul is a freelance writer and PR consultant living in New Jersey.